Customer Reviews


190 Reviews
5 star:
 (66)
4 star:
 (20)
3 star:
 (10)
2 star:
 (25)
1 star:
 (69)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE PATH OF GRACE OR NATURE?
The Tree of Life ironically deals with the topic of death. The film tells you to turn up the sound so you can hear all the first person narration. When their son dies at the age of 19 parents cope with the loss and question their faith, but not severely question their faith that would alter their life style. After the characters are introduced, we still see Sean Penn...
Published 20 months ago by The Movie Guy

versus
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bit (Too Much) Of A Mishmash
Well, where do you start with a Terence Malick film (particularly a recent one)? To me, he's rather like Lars von Trier (oh no, I've upset two camps now). As with many von Trier films, The Tree Of Life has some brilliant moments and is a film whose impact (and appeal?) I suspect may well grow on repeat viewings (this is true for me after two 'gos') .... and yet does it...
Published 15 months ago by Keith M


‹ Previous | 1 219 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE PATH OF GRACE OR NATURE?, 6 Aug. 2013
This review is from: The Tree of Life [DVD] (DVD)
The Tree of Life ironically deals with the topic of death. The film tells you to turn up the sound so you can hear all the first person narration. When their son dies at the age of 19 parents cope with the loss and question their faith, but not severely question their faith that would alter their life style. After the characters are introduced, we still see Sean Penn doesn't own a comb. The film digresses into a Discovery Channel special which condenses the modern version of creation of 14.7 billion years into about 12 minutes. I felt like we had passed into the monolith.

We now start all over with the birth of the children. Hey, we already know one dies. There are things that are whispered. These are meant to be ideas or questions for God. Brad Pitt metaphorically represents the "tough love" God who prepares us for life's journey without us realizing it. Hence we have the macrocosm and microcosm in our tale. One could assume that the microcosm of our life is reflective of our theological views, we carve out a tough love God based upon our tough love "Father". At one point in the movie Brad Pitt insists his son call him "Father" and never "Dad." Having lived in the south, that is a no-no. "Father" is reserved for the heavenly Father. That is a hint of the symbolism. A sermon stresses the book of Job and asks, "Is the scheme of life a fraud?"

Not for everyone. I was very bored until I figured out what they were attempting to do. I think the beauty of the film is that different people can grasp a different meaning from it. It doesn't spell it out. My review is one take.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cautious love, 6 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Tree of Life [DVD] (DVD)
I have a cautious love for this film. An oddity in some ways, seeking to place the story of one family and their regrets in the context of the beginning of existence and the eventual end of the world. Majestically shot, superbly acted, but perhaps Malick could have placed the very important dialogue (of which there is not that much in the whole film) a bit higher in the mix. Subtitles helped me out here in a way that people who saw the film in the cinema weren't blessed with. With great art comes the risk of great pretentiousness and this is certainly a film that walks the tightrope between the two.Which side of the tightrope you fall off and land in will be very much about who, and how reflective you are.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Beautiful Thing You'll Ever See, 14 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The impressionistic story of a Texas family in the 1950s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father. Jack finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Going back to our roots, 12 May 2012
By 
Adam "Say something about yourself!" (Dunton, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Tree of Life [DVD] (DVD)
I took a chance on this film after hearing various bewildered critical responses from cinema goers and critics. At issue seemed to be the sprawling cosmic imagery, intercutting scenes of family drama, with sequences involving dinosaurs being singled out for especial derision.
Still, intrigued, I rented this, and I am incredibly glad that I did.
The film is long and sprawling, and you are put in the mind frame for the human wrestling the transcendent straightaway, with a quote from the Book of Job, the voice of God, no less;
"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world..."
The film unfolds at a searching, meditative pace, but we go straight to intense human drama, with the O'Brien family receiving news of the death of a son. The action then rewinds, through the mind's eye of Sean Penn's middle aged architect reflecting on his boyhood with this family, and the character of the mother (Jessica Christian) reflecting on the twin paths of 'Grace' and 'Nature.'
The interplay between the sons and the parents in the America of their day (50's Texas) is the human drama of the film. The mother is all gentleness and grace, but with steel too. The father (an impressive Brad Pitt), authoritarian and wounded, is scarred into an oppressive attitude to his boys by what he sees as the merciless, Darwinian struggle of life.
The Sean Penn character, as a boy, grows and rebels, increasingly testing his father. There are also landmark events that further underscore the frightening side of life. The drowning of a boyhood friend is a particularly chilling and effective example of this, with the grotesque suddenness and splintering horror of it breaking in when least expected to a carefree community event.
All this is juxtaposed by the wider cosmic 'birth pangs' of the universe and the world, with fantastic images of galaxies and worlds, our world, being born. We see the growing pains of creation, cosmic collisions and explosions, experimental life, dinosaurs.
So, the human struggle is given context, but not trivialised. In fact, it is given its meaning.
The Christian imagery, spoken and implied in the film will give meaning to some. Others will find the meaning in the cycles and struggles of nature. Some both. But for me, no film has so successfully linked the human struggle with the transcendent since perhaps 2001 a Space Odyssey. This earlier film, with its explosion of cosmic imagery and the sense of an incredible 'other' gave me a lasting sense of wonder similar to this. It's fitting that both films are linked through the effects work of Doug Trumbull. If anything, this film has a greater human heart set in the realities of human life, without the distractions of homicidal supercomputers.
And the climactic vision, seen through the eyes of Sean Penn's character, is a powerful emotional and spiritual drama of reconciliation and redemption.
This is an enthralling, wonderful film. Go see.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My most viewed film of all time, 1 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The difference between Art and Entertainment is that Art demands something of the viewer. This is a very demanding film and many have refused the demand. For those who do respond it rewards with a new narrative style, visual beauty, and profound (and challenging) theological insight into the value and cost of human life. I have shown this movie 14 times to friends and still cannot take my eyes from the screen.
Chastain glows and Pitt gives his best ever performance, achingly true,
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bit (Too Much) Of A Mishmash, 5 Jan. 2014
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Tree of Life [DVD] (DVD)
Well, where do you start with a Terence Malick film (particularly a recent one)? To me, he's rather like Lars von Trier (oh no, I've upset two camps now). As with many von Trier films, The Tree Of Life has some brilliant moments and is a film whose impact (and appeal?) I suspect may well grow on repeat viewings (this is true for me after two 'gos') .... and yet does it hang together enough (and, at least as importantly, engage the viewer for what is a duration pushing two and a half hours)? For me, probably not.

Of course, the film is impressive as purely a sensorial experience. Its mix of an intimate story of a Texan family, Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain's Mr and Mrs O'Brien (the former a domineering 'devout businessman', the latter a (mostly)subservient 'automaton') and their young sons, and surreal story spanning the 'ages of man' give plenty of opportunity for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki to display his virtuosity (though its initial efforts to 'do a 2001' are, for me, badly misjudged, and its 'Jurassic Park moments', at best, merely superfluous and gratuitous). Similarly, Malick's use of music is generally impressive, with particular favourites for me being the stunning opening bars of Mahler's 1st Symphony, followed (in short order) by some (for me, unidentified) sublime choral music.

Acting-wise, I would say Malick's film is 'solid'. For me, Pitt's performance has been over-rated (it's not a patch on his turn in The Assassination Of Jesse James, for example) and to give equal 'star billing' to Sean Penn's '10 minute cameo' is rather disingenuous. Of the adults, I found Chastain the most impressive as the stoic, put-upon wife who eventually reaches the end of her tether. The acting star, though, is undoubtedly Hunter McCracken's turn as the conflicted, confused and (eventually) defiant young (eldest) son Jack - his engaging facial expressions are (nearly) 'worth the price of admission' alone.

I found Malick's film (though overlong) to be something of a grower (hence the thought that its impact might increase on further repeat viewings) as a 'parable' around the meaning of spirituality ('The Lord gives and the Lord takes away...') and its tale of loss, regret, guilt, shame and love. And I can't help thinking that there is probably something special (maybe a 100-minute film of more intimate-scale), lurking within what is, for me, a 'flawed epic'. Other films it reminded me of (in parts), as well as 2001 and von Trier (Melancholia, in particular), were John Huston's Wiseblood and Nic Roeg's Don't Look Now (though it's not in the same league as these latter two). Malick is a film-maker whose works should always be seen and who should be congratulated for his vision and level of ambition - even if such ambition is not always (for me) realised totally successfully.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Resonates..., 17 Dec. 2013
By 
This review is from: The Tree of Life [DVD] (DVD)
Beautiful. I'm trying to think if there is another film-maker who has tried to use film as a simulcra of what life might be about? Perhaps Wenders?

To the naysayers I think I understand. It isn't an easy pop-corn munching movie to watch. Throw away the pop-corn.

I loved it, but it doesn't work as a family movie, but a personal one. Every trivial detail of Brad Pitt's family resonate with my own childhood.

The sequence from big bang to life is breath-taking. The sounds of life from all around you in 5.1 or 7.1 are tremendous, the audio experience is a glorious delight.

At the beginning of the movie it asks you to play the DVD loud. So I did, very loud. Regretably for many people this film only works on large screens with the very best audio fidelity, or a suitably equipped home cinema system with a large screen and excellent speakers.

Tremendous achievement Mr Malick.

Comment: I note another review mentioned the religious symbolism - but though there was some it didn't make an impact on me - the gathering at the end was an allegory, almost a deep wish that we all re-unite at the end of it all, as the 1-god-religions try so hard to make us believe - but an atheist will take away a far deeper meaning from this film because they will see more clearly the accident that is our universe.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Masterpiece, 6 Nov. 2011
You have to see Tree of Life for yourself. Even then you will have to watch is 3-5 times before you can truly appreciate it.

Reviews seem to be split between unadulterated raves and savage critiques. In truth, both of these arguments are right.

Unfortunately there is an awkward sequence (from meeting Sean Penn to discovering the creation of life) that seriously derails the film and is probably responsible for a large portion of the negative reviews. While we understand a grieving mother asking God why he took her son, Penn's introduction is one note (city life has disconnected him from his true self) and too long. We then move into the 'creation of the universe' with no clear understanding why this relates to what we've just seen. More interesting voice over from either Mother or Son at this crucial junction would have provided the stimulus needed for us to undertake this journey. As it is, it is a beautiful sequence but one which feels too disconnected from the family narrative. Such a shame and so easily fixed.

If you are able to look past this mis-step, the 2nd half of the film is truly magical. Once we get stuck into the family dynamics the film finds solid footing and it features some of Malick's best work to date. He seems to understand the human condition better than any other film maker. He's also never forgotten the questions we all asked as children. Why should I be good? Is there a God? Why do we die?

While this doesn't hit the heights of Thin Red Line, it is still a bold, spiritual and life affirming film from one of life's true geniuses.

Go see it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tree Of Life - A critical misjudgement, 2 Sept. 2011
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Tree of Life [DVD] (DVD)
Given the awards that this film has won, and the glowing reviews that I read everywhere, I was expecting a masterpiece of cinematography with a complex and moving central message told with a unique style. I jumped at the chance to go and see it in the cinema and really wish that I hadn't.

To give credit where it is due, the film is in places visually absolutely stunning. The cinematography is indeed superb and worth of praise. The main problem for me was the film's message. Malick doesn't really have a lot to say, and takes an awfully long time to say it. The central story around which Malick hangs his message is that of a young boy growing up in mid fifties America, and his relationship with his bullying father and angelic mother. At some point the boy's brother dies, and we see images of his 1950's youth mixed with present day images of him still coming to terms with his childhood. All this is shown in a fractured timeframe with little logical order. Interspersed with all of this are images of the creation of the universe and earth, the evolution of life and images of a possible god like entity. The ending is just downright odd, with some sort of mystic beach perhaps supposed to represent heaven. I didn't understand that part, but by then had completely lost interest in the film.

The film meanders along for a few hours with lots of nice pictures. The stories could be interesting but ultimately don't really lead anywhere. The characters are generally completely 2 dimensional and completely unengaging, thus losing any emotional impact that the film might have had. There are lots of philosophical ramblings which appear to be asking `is there a god?' and showing us the insignificance of our place in the universe. It moves very very slowly, almost interminably, and nothing of interest actually happens. The film feels exceedingly long, with lots of jumping around and throwing in of seemingly unrelated excerpts. This makes the film appear complex, but ultimately seems to be an attempt to cover up its shortcomings.

It is a long time since I have been as bored by a film as by this. I enjoy the arty end of the film spectrum as a rule, and enjoy a good impressionistic film that goes at it's own pace (I love Ingmar Bergman's work for example, and think Th Dreyer's Vampyr is a masterpiece), but this left me cold. There was nothing in it which caught my interest. The only reason I stayed was because of the glowing reviews and the expectation that the good bit that they were all talking about would come along soon. It didn't. The film ends rather abruptly and left me thinking `was that it?'

I went to see this in a local art house cinema, about 10% of the audience walked out, and of the remainder opinion was sharply divided with about 50% loving it and 50% thinking it was pretentious twaddle.

Personally I cannot understand the acclaim that has been heaped on this film. While I admit that there are some people who may well of actually enjoyed this, it has the feel at times of a film that people think that they should like in order to appear `with it'. I found it very pretentious and uninteresting and, even worse, completely unenjoyable and unenlightening. So, two stars because I did quite like the cinematography, especially of the creation scenes. An edit of just these sections of the film would probably make an interesting IMAX film. But a work of genius worthy of gushing and fulsome praise? I am afraid not.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Obscure, 16 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Tree of Life [DVD] (DVD)
This film is bizarre and obscure, not unusual for Sean Penn, but it was a bit too far down the random road for me..
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 219 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Tree Of Life
The Tree Of Life by Terrence Malick
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews